Waking with no memory, Arabella finds herself courted by three men claiming to be her mates. Dragon shifters Tobin, Gerrit, and Blakely woo her with sweet words and deeds, convincing her that she’s always lived this fairy tale existence. Life is perfect until the Inamanida King decides the experiment has gone on long enough—and Tobin is ordered to turn Arabella over to be tortured and used by the entire clan.
Meanwhile Jonathan is working to help settle the humans in Zmaj’s outer city. As the son of a prominent human leader, finds himself thrust into a leadership role and having to liaise with creatures he was raised to fear. Soon he falls for Laurel, a beautiful woman recently arrived from Earth, but as secrets emerge, he faces a stark truth that could cost him everything.
Tobin and Jonathan must risk everything and deal with consequences that could cost them the fragile relationships they’ve built with the women they love.
Warnings: MFMM, MF
Word Count: 30,453
Buy from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LBaLKf
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When Mom tried to get up, I grabbed her arm and forced her to sit still. My mother was nobody’s maid, and Laurel was capable of serving herself. A food-filled plate waited for her on the counter. Laurel tossed her long, sun-bleached hair over her shoulder, grabbed her plate, and joined us at the table.
“How did it go today?” Laurel flashed a friendly smile at my mom.
“We sold almost everything,” Mom said.
“No thanks to you,” I added.
“Jonathan!” Mom hissed, probably appalled at my lack of manners.
“She took off and didn’t do shit to help. We provide her with food and a bed, and she does nothing to help with that effort.” The apple-cinnamon bread turned sour in my mouth.
Laurel’s shirt had slid sideways, exposing one shoulder. It was a new design of my mother’s, and we’d sold out of them today. If she wasn’t so annoying, I might have noticed and appreciated the smoothness of her supple, tan skin. The sight of her sexy shoulder might have stirred me, so I focused on what I disliked about her. Laurel didn’t seem fazed by my bad mood. Her grin grew. “I modeled the shirt, Mr. Grouchy. I walked around all day, showing it off and telling people where to get it. I even approached a few of the Zmaj ladies. Did we make any headway there?”
Mom tilted her head and half nodded. “They need a certain fabric that is difficult to obtain. It works with their shifting abilities, appearing when they’re in human form and disappearing when they’re in dragon form. It doesn’t rip or become distorted. I’ve worked with it a few times, but my Zmaj never let me do anything out of the ordinary with it.”
Laurel nodded. “I bet if you ask Cassie, she’ll get you some. Her Zmaj seem to do anything she wants.”
“You sound jealous,” I said. “Did you leave your Zmaj because they wouldn’t do what you wanted?”
“Nope,” she returned smugly, her dark eyes sparkling and setting off something inside me. “I left because I’m not ready to settle down with men who inject venom into me to ensure my compliance.”
A flame lit in my belly—ignited by her look, not her words—and traveled up my spine. The heat threatened to overwhelm me, and so I gulped my water. My mother leaped to her feet. “Jonathan, are you all right?”
“Fine.” I waved her away, but she pushed my hand down and felt my forehead.
“You’re burning up.”
I felt like I was on fire. Across the table, Laurel merely smirked. I ignored her and concentrated on not burping smoke. Pain knifed through my midsection, and I doubled over, toppling to the floor. Laurel and my mother moved the table and bench out of the way, and as their shadows disappeared, I saw that my fingers had become talons. Horrified, I clutched my fist to my stomach and waited for the spasms to pass. This wasn’t the first time I’d had an attack of this kind, but this was by far worse than any of the others. Never before had my hand morphed. Deep down I knew Illion was right, but I refused to think about that right now. I desperately didn’t want to be a fucking—heartless, soulless—dragon.
After a time, the pain faded, as did the heat. Thankfully, my mother ceased trying to make me move or talk to her. Exhausted, I let my mother and Laurel help me to bed, where I immediately fell into a deep sleep.
I woke to blinding sunlight, which meant the day was going to be boiling hot. Summers were the worst. At least my room was cool and comfortable. I sat up, and that’s when all the aches and pains hit. My head felt like a balloon, my shoulder killed, and I couldn’t move my arm. I looked down to see white bandages winding down the right side of my body, all the way to my foot. The left side looked okay, but it was murder to move.
The room in which I lay looked more like a bedroom than a hospital. The walls were white, as were the bed linens, and the curtains were deep brown. No bad or inspirational artwork hung on the barren walls. I’d woken up in a tampon commercial. The bed, by the way, was massive. It could swallow me and a few of my closest friends whole.
Looking over, I hurt my neck and saw a gorgeous man coming through the door, so it was sort of worth the pain. He was quite large, broad-shouldered and full of muscles, yet he moved with pantherlike grace. His face was obscured by his long red hair, and thankfully he brushed it away. His face was just as appealing as his body, but he still gave me pause. For one, his eyes were the same shade of red as his hair, and that struck me as weird. Second, I didn’t know him.
He smiled and gently pushed my unhurt shoulder back down. “Don’t try to move. Your injuries are quite severe.”
I settled back on the pillows. “Who are you? Where am I?”
He frowned and pulled back a bit, regarding me as if I had lost my mind. “Who am I? You do not remember?”
I attempted to shake my head, but the movement hurt, so I said, “Remember what?”
His gaze traveled the length of my bandages. “You fell and hit your head. I feared you would not awaken.”
I feared I hadn’t awakened—or that I had lost my mind. “You haven’t told me who you are.”
“Tobin. Do you recall your name?”
Of course I knew my name—I just couldn’t think of it. I searched my mind, but it hid from me, heckling from behind a veil I couldn’t penetrate. “Where am I?”
“Home,” he said, his expression turning sad. “Arabella, you are home.” He opened his mouth to say more, but then he closed it. “I do not know if it is better for you to remember on your own—as you heal—or if I should tell you everything you wish to know.”
Arabella. That sounded right. Yes, the word took definite shape in the shadows of my memory. More was there, but it remained hidden. I tried to coax it out, but it was too timid—almost terrified. Pain knifed through my head, putting a halt to any of that activity. “Why am I not in a hospital?”
That one seemed to throw him, but he recovered quickly. “What would you get in a hospital that you wouldn’t get here? I have been and will continue to care for you.”
“Why?” I searched his face for clues. Why would he go through the time and expense of caring for someone with injuries as extensive as mine? “What am I to you?”
He glanced away, but not quickly enough to hide the flash of pain in his eyes.
This cloak-and-dagger stuff was going to drive me nuts, especially because it concerned my life. “Tobin, please be honest with me.”
“My mate.” He exhaled hard. “You are my mate, and your accident was my fault. I was irresponsible, full of hubris. I wanted to show off for you, and this was the result.”
Fear clutched at my heart, and the feeling of falling through the air made my stomach clench. Suddenly I felt cold and clammy. I tried to turn away so he wouldn’t see, but pain made it come faster. I vomited on my pillow.